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Is Alexander Romanov the first UFC fighter from Moldova?

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UFC heavyweight Alexander Romanov
UFC heavyweight Alexander Romanov

Alexander Romanov extended his undefeated pro-MMA record to 14-0 with a victory over Juan Espino tonight. The heavyweight represents The Republic of Moldova, a country scarce of elite MMA talent. However, Alexander Romanov is certainly not the first Moldovan to step inside the UFC cage.

Moldovan light heavyweight Ion Cutelaba made his promotional debut in 2016, four years before Alexander Romanov's UFC debut. Cutelaba fought veteran fighter Misha Cirkunov at UFC Fight Night 177. Although the fight did not go his way, Cutelaba made history by becoming the first Moldovan to set foot on UFC canvas.

26-year-old Sergey Spivak is another rising Moldovan heavyweight prospect. Known as 'The Polar Bear', Spivak made his UFC debut against Walt Harris, replacing Aleksei Oleinik, at UFC Fight Night 151. Spivak lost his debut via TKO in round one and has since amassed a 12-2-0 pro-MMA record.

Did Alexander Romanov make history in his second UFC outing?

Alexander Romanov, also known by his King Kong monicker, kicked-off his pro-MMA career in 2016 at EFC 3 (Eagle Fighting Championship). Despite lacking the edge in terms of MMA experience, Romanov ran through EFC's heavyweight division and stacked up 11 straight wins in the promotion.

In 2019, the UFC offered Alexander Romanov a fight contract and scheduled his first fight against Rafael Pessosa. However, due to lockdown restrictions in place, Romanov's April 2020 debut date was postponed. The promotion set up the Moldovan's first fight against Marcin Tybura on the UFC 251 fight card, stacked with three-title fights. But Romanov tested positive for Covid--19 and the bout was cancelled.

Alexander Romanov finally made his octagon debut in September 2020, against Roque Martinez. The 30-year-old fighter finished Martinez with an arm-triangle choke and claimed a second-round submission victory.

Romanov faced Marcos Lima next at UFC on ESPN 17. King Kong caught Lima in a forearm choke in the first round, something that was unprecedented in UFC heavyweight history. Lima subsequently tapped and Romanov bagged his thirteenth victory. The UFC awarded the Moldovan native with a Performance of the Night bonus.

In tonight's prelims main event, Alexander Romanov claimed a split decision victory over 40-year-old Juan Espino.

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Edited by James McGlade
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